We're still learning about one of the biggest breaches ever
On Sept. 7, Equifax announced a data breach, where hackers gained access to company data that included sensitive information for millions of Americans. Up to 143 million Americans may have had their names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and other vital information accessed. It also looks like the hack compromised 209,000 people’s credit card numbers and personal dispute details for another 182,000 individuals. This breach happened between mid-May and July. The hack was discovered on July 29 and Equifax informed the public more than a month later.
The Equifax breach is one of the biggest ever and leaves people in the U.S., U.K., and Canada at risk for identity theft.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith.
Using this personal and sensitive information, identity thieves have the ability to impersonate individuals to creditors, lenders and service providers.
Equifax is now doing damage control, but so far it hasn’t seemed to be enough to calm nerves and prevent initial confusion.
Per the Sept. 7 statement:
Equifax has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers - all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year. The website also provides additional information on steps consumers can take to protect their personal information. Equifax recommends that consumers with additional questions visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or contact a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559, which the company set up to assist consumers. The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern time.
In addition to the website, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted.
While there have been complaints that the site doesn’t do much to verify whether or not an individual’s information has been compromised, there seems to be overall consensus that it’s more likely than not your information has been accessed.
When it comes to what to do next, you’ve probably heard all of these tips before, but now you have even more reason to do them now.
Monitor your own credit reports. They’re available for free once every year, so it might be best to stagger them so you see one every four months or so.
Keep in mind that this isn’t something that will be over soon. The hackers who have the data could use it at any time, and since much of the data that stays the same through your entire life, they very well could wait a while to use it.
Freeze your credit reports. Of course, you don’t have to do this, but it does stop identity thieves from opening credit cards or loans in your name. If you find that you need to apply for something in the future, just remember to lift the freeze before. (via ABC)
On Sept. 8, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched a formal investigation into the hack. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into the breach, too, so hopefully we’ll find out more information on how this happened and who’s behind it soon.
Employment, housing affects many on coast
As the waters rescind and the sun shines again, we’re left to reflect on the true devastation of Hurricane Harvey along coastal Texas. The consequences of the massive storm are huge, real and will take years to correct. But of all the people affected, no one seems to be hit harder than the working poor.
These are people who work hard just to make ends meet and more often than not find themselves working paycheck to paycheck. Many have no financial cushion, no savings and limited funds available for necessities.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Hurricane Harvey is estimated to have destroyed or caused major damage to more than 13,700 single, mobile and multi-family homes in Harris County. Additionally throughout Southeast Texas, federal officials say Harvey affected more than 100,000 homes, and more than 436,000 households have registered for aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Others may not even have a job to come back to. With some businesses closed until damages are fixed, paychecks for hourly workers are on hold, too. In the week following Harvey’s landfall, the number of people filing for U.S. unemployment claims jumped more than it had in five years (more than 51,000 new applications in Texas).
34-year old Mark Levi Betancourt evacuated his trailer home with his family, and the home was severely damaged by the hurricane — so much so that he’s now seeking to raise funds to replace it. Prior to Harvey’s landfall, Mark worked fulltime at Woody’s Sports Center, which charters boat trips, in Port Aransas, Texas. But now he’s without a job, since the docks suffered so much damage and won’t reopen for at least two months.
Already living paycheck to paycheck, Mark said “I’ve been living on the bottom forever, it’s not like I had far to fall.”
Still others may have a job, but don’t have a way to get there as Harvey wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands of vehicles in the region. Experts say that employers will usually only give people about two weeks to stabilize their lives after disaster before letting them go from their jobs if they cannot get there reliably. There isn’t much time for people to find alternative transportation.
For those who already struggled before the storm, things have gotten worse. The aftermath of Harvey is a working poor who’ve been knocked down yet again, and we want to do our part to help them get back on their feet again.
On the Road Lending created a special loan program for people impacted by these storms that will allow them to gain access to reliable transportation at a manageable cost while they rebuild their lives. Click here to donate to the program.
Photo credit: DRONE BASE / REUTERS
“Bertram is a Vietnam veteran who has suffered for many years with PTSD, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse. He’s been working with the Salvation Army to find support, employment and a safe and stable place to call home. With a master’s degree in Theology, he had an opportunity to work in the ministry. But without reliable transportation, getting to his new job and fulfilling his work obligations was going to be impossible. With an affordable loan and his new Nissan, Bertram’s back on track!
CLICK HERE to get others like Bertram on the road to success.”
“Alfie was in a position that many of our clients face — he had an older car that needed constant repair. Often he had to take the bus to work because his car was in the shop, and, eventually, it just didn’t make sense to spend more money on his 2001 Volvo station wagon. He had earned his master’s degree and graduated when the economy was sliding and was having trouble finding a job — especially one he could reach on a train or bus route. He not only had his own student loans to pay but also some for his kids, so he was under a lot of financial stress. After we got Alfie an affordable loan for a newer car, he got a job as a counselor that he could not have taken without a reliable car. We also connected Alfie with the AirCheck Texas Drive a Clean Machine Program that reduced the cost of his purchase by $3,000 when his old Volvo that failed emissions tests was taken off of the road permanently. The Camry he bought has 32% less emissions and a 31% better environmental impact score. On the Road Lending is proud to be doing its part to improve health and air quality by getting older polluting cars off the road!
CLICK HERE to get others like Alfie on the road in cleaner cars.”
Café Momentum recruited Jim from New York to work with its nonprofit program that provides paid culinary internships and life skills training for juvenile offenders to foster successful re-entry into the community. Prior to moving to Texas, Jim had good credit and had saved for his move. Unfortunately he had to maintain the mortgage on his home in New York longer than expected. With his savings depleted, he depended on credit to pay expenses, which lowered his credit score. When his car was totaled in a severe hail storm here, he found that he couldn’t get an affordable loan for a replacement vehicle. Jim and his wife, Araceli, have adopted 17 children in need over the last 23 years, and currently have six living at home. When we heard about Jim, he only had a few days left on the rental car his insurance company was providing. We have never moved so fast to help someone and were able to get Jim qualified and into his Honda Civic within three days! Jim has dedicated his life to giving back, and we’re proud we could keep him going.
CLICK HERE to help others like Jim get on the road to success!
Acquisition a reminder that grocery shopping isn't easy for those without cars
We were surprised as anyone when we heard the news about Amazon buying Whole Foods. Afterall, the acquisition is likely to affect many industries across the country and even across the globe.
A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal focused on the fact that the acquisition could disrupt an industry we know a lot about: the auto industry. And while the focus of the editorial was about the idea that making groceries a click away instead of a drive away could change everything, our focus was on something else.
According to the WSJ piece:
“The average American makes 1.5 trips to the grocery store a week, spending an average 53 hours a year roaming the aisles. A British survey that studied in detail the reasons for car ownership—and second- and third-car ownership—found high on the list was the need to haul otherwise unmanageable grocery loads from store to home. Some 65% said grocery shopping would be “quite” or “very” difficult without a car.”
We at On the Road Lending know that last sentence to be true. Without a car, grocery shopping has the potential to be a very difficult and complicated task. In fact, grocery shopping is the No. 2 reason for car ownership for Americans. Commuting to school or work takes the top spot.
The piece talks about the hassle of going grocery shopping on a busy Saturday or Sunday, and how there are people who would love to avoid it. But we know more people who don’t consider that a hassle at all and who would love to drive their very own car to the grocery store rather than take public transit or borrow a vehicle from a friend or family member.
Will Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods disrupt the auto industry? We’re not so sure about that. But what we are sure about is the fact that without a car, grocery shopping is a more arduous task than it should be. That’s just one reason why we’re making sure car ownership is a reality and not just a dream for low- to moderate-income families.
Frisco ISD gives motorized toy cars to special needs children
The need for mobility isn’t just for adults. We were reminded of this while learning about a heart-warming and inspiring story about students with severe disabilities receiving toy cars to allow them to easily explore the world around them.
The Frisco Independent School District is behind the effort that was inspired by the University of Delaware’s GoBabyGo program. A total of 12 students at the Early Childhood School were selected to receive the cars — up from last year’s test run where one student received one car.
Engineering students at Frisco ISD’s Career and Technical Education Center were involved in the process, taking the toy cars, adding motors and reconfiguring the wiring by replacing foot pedals with power buttons. They also added kill switches for parents, seat belts, safety rails and other features specific to each student’s needs.
Though the toy cars may be fun for the students who use them, they’re also practical and educational. They boost social interactions as well as teach cause and effect with each push of that big, bright, red button.
“A lot of times people underestimate these kids,” Juanita Craig said. Her son, Morgan received the first car last year and because he outgrew it was able to get another one this year. “They just learn differently. We have to find new avenues and guide them.”
David doesn’t let the past dictate who he is today. He had a rough childhood and was incarcerated twice, but he refused to let that be the end of his story. While incarcerated, he focused on his financial fitness by participating in programs on personal finances, budgeting and credit. Now with reliable transportation through our KEY provisional transportation program, he is working as a peer educator in the Prison Entrepreneur Program and is planning to attend a local Dallas college to study business management. Not only is David diligent about creating a better life for himself, but also he aims to inspire other young, at-risk men who need positive role models to do the same!
CLICK HERE to help others like David get a new start.
Goal to increase the reach of On the Road Lending to people who can benefit
We’re incredibly grateful for our clients, so we came up with a way to reward them while increasing our reach and ability to help others!
Our program gives clients $25 with each referral along with at least one entry into a yearly drawing. See the details below:
Rules: In order for the referring person to receive cash payments and earn entries into the prize drawing, the referred client must complete the intake and pay application fee. Upon receipt of the application fee, OtRL will issue a check to the referring party and record the referring person’s entries for the prize drawing. Tallies and earned entries will accumulate for one year and the drawing for prizes will be held once per year at the Client Appreciation Event.
Grand Prize: Flat Screen TV
1st Prize: $250 Gas Gift Card
2nd Prize: $200 Grocery Gift Card
3rd Prize: $100 Grocery Gift Card
Four local awardees leverage workforce-related solutions to disrupt persistent social issues
April 19, 2017 – DALLAS – ORIX Foundation has announced a $3 million investment into four local nonprofits that are leveraging innovative, workforce-related solutions to disrupt persistent community challenges from poverty and unemployment to child abuse and neglect. The foundation, led by employees of Dallas-based financial services company ORIX USA, created the Community Innovation Project in response to a $3 million contribution from ORIX USA.
Community Innovation Project awardees include: Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep and Paul Quinn College, which help economically disadvantaged students change the trajectory of their lives through work-study programs with Dallas employers; On the Road Lending, which helps the working poor address transportation barriers to long-term employment and financial stability; and Community Partners of Dallas, which is seeking to improve protections for abused and neglected children through a privately funded work environment to support and retain Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworkers.
“These are all creative, problem-solving organizations that are willing to think differently and break with the status quo to better serve the Dallas community,” said Jim Dunn, who chaired the Community Innovation Project task force for ORIX Foundation and is President of ORIX Real Estate Americas. “Since we, as ORIX employees, better the community through our workplace, we were drawn to the idea of supporting transformational work experiences to further social change.”
The Community Innovation Project awards include:
$1 million to Community Partners of Dallas to fund a home base for CPS caseworkers. Last year a report showed that Dallas County CPS workers quit at annual rate of 57 percent. High turnover has led to prolonged time in investigating initial child abuse allegations, neglect in working cases, as well as dozens of other issues that affect the children served. As the state-designated charity partner for CPS in Dallas, Community Partners of Dallas is creating a new, privately funded space for caseworkers that will be the first of its kind in the country. For caseworks accustomed to working out of their cars or in crowded cubicles shared with multiple caseworks, this space will help create a positive work environment and collaborative hub for working with peers to protect abused children
$500,000 to Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep for a new center to expand its Corporate Work Study Program. Cristo Rey Dallas offers economically disadvantaged high school students the opportunity to gain real-life business skills and character-building experiences from local employers while earning the majority of their tuition. Cristo Rey Dallas opened in Pleasant Grove in 2015, and provides a quality college preparatory experience to students in an area where poverty is pervasive and less than half of adults over 25 have graduated from high school. The Cristo Rey model combines education and work experience to change the trajectory of low-income students’ lives at 32 schools nationwide, with 90 percent of its graduates admitted to college. The work-study program connects students to paid jobs with more than 70 of Dallas’ top companies – exposing students to prosperous employment opportunities across North Texas and encouraging them to pursue educational opportunities in these higher income careers
$500,000 to On the Road Lending to expand its Keys to Empowering Yourself (KEY) transportation program. This one-of-a-kind program offers reliable, low-interest vehicles and intensive financial coaching for vulnerable clients taking their first steps toward financial stability. Lack of transportation is reported to be the number one reason people lose their jobs, and public transport is often inaccessible in economically disadvantaged parts of Dallas. Funding from the Community Innovation Project will provide capital for low-interest vehicle loans for quality used cars under warranty, as well as financial coaching for those participants. The KEY program empowers individuals to avoid predatory loans, get and keep jobs, become more financially stable and have a healthier, better quality of life.
$1 million to Paul Quinn College for its Work Program. This program gives urban students, primarily from low-income backgrounds, real-world work experience while enabling them to contribute to their college tuition without sacrificing their academic performance. Paul Quinn College is the only urban Work College in the United States, and its New Urban College Model has the potential to become a national standard. The school has been recognized for being an anchor institution for its students and a workforce pipeline for employers, while reversing unemployment, dropout rates and student debt trends.
ORIX Foundation received an overwhelming response to its call for game-changing ideas to disrupt persistent community issues, with 164 applications submitted and vetted by a committee of ORIX employees over a nine-month period. This is the first innovation-focused grant opportunity from the employee-driven foundation, which has committed over $10 million in other grants to nonprofits since 2009, primarily in ORIX USA’s headquarters region of North Texas.
About ORIX Foundation ORIX Foundation is a nonprofit foundation sponsored and managed by ORIX USA Corporation and its employees to advance education, strengthen communities and improve lives. The foundation awards direct grants to not-for-profit organizations and matches the charitable contributions and fundraising of each ORIX USA, RED Capital and Boston Financial Investment Management employee up to $10,000 each year. Since it was founded in 2009, ORIX Foundation has committed over $13 million to nonprofit organizations primarily in ORIX USA’s headquarters region of North Texas.
About ORIX USA Corporation ORIX USA, a subsidiary of ORIX Corporation, provides innovative capital solutions that clients need to propel their business to the next level. Based in Dallas, ORIX USA has a team of more than 700 employees spanning 20 offices across the U.S. and Brazil. ORIX USA and its family of companies offer investment capital and asset management services to clients in the corporate, real estate, municipal and energy sectors, while holding $6 billion of assets and managing an additional $29 billion, approximately. For more information on ORIX USA, visit www.orix.com.
After rigorous process, designation awarded by US Treasury
We’re excited to announce that our impact investment loan fund, which provides below-market interest rate loans on good vehicles, has been designated by the US Treasury as a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI). This prestigious designation is not easy to obtain and is only granted to specialized organizations offering financial products and services to benefit low-income communities and other target populations, in our case, African Americans and Hispanic families and individuals.
The people we seek to serve have difficulty purchasing reliable transportation without being taken advantage of by predatory lenders. They often buy poor quality cars with bad loans because of a lack of credit, financial knowledge, or an understanding of the car-purchasing process. The partnership between our services arm, On the Road Lending, and OTR Fund I, LLC, our first loan fund, is a deliberate strategy to help these clients overcome this situation. Although two separate entities, they work closely together to provide an integrated suite of benefits for the people we serve, including long-term financial coaching, vehicle services, and good loans.
Our goal is for people to build stronger lives and better health (physical, mental, emotional and financial). We want everyone to be able to access and retain the best job possible, overcome food deserts, obtain good medical care, access education options for their children, build assets and credit, and be on the road to a better future.
To learn more about CDFI Certification, visit their website.
To learn more about OTR Fund I, click here.
Shut down an effort to combat crime
Recently, DART closed a bus stop at the intersection of Forest Lane and Audelia Road. The stop was shut down in an effort to combat crime in the area.
Many residents were already avoiding the bus stop because of the crime, but according to DART spokesman Mark Ball this stop was one of their busiest locations. And while there hadn’t been reports of crime on the DART buses, the shutdown of the location was an effort to work with the community.
“We know they are attempting to fight the bigger issue of crime and we wanted to be part of the solution,” Ball said. They’ll now direct people to use bus stop to the north and the south — both about 5 minutes away.
While we can understand why this is the resolution to the issue, we can’t help but wonder about the families and individuals who are affected by the bus stop closing. It’s easy to say the other bus stops are only about 5 minutes away, but there are too many people who can’t afford to extend their commute that’s already too long.
Additionally, if DART shuts down one of its busier stops because of crime, what does that say about public transportation? We’re not saying it’s the most dangerous option, but we can certainly say that on top of being unreliable, it’s certainly not the safest option for Dallas families.
What do you think of DART closing the stop at Forest Lane and Audelia Road? Is it an acceptable solution to the crime issue?
“Yasmin was referred to us from Genesis Women’s Shelter where she and her daughter, Yvette, were receiving help to escape domestic violence. One of our earliest clients, she is our second client to pay off her car note. This hard-working single mother has two degrees from the University of Mexico and is multi-lingual—as is her daughter. Today Yasmin has perfect credit and is enjoying having no car payment. In the near future though, she says that she plans to come back to On the Road Lending for a loan for a newer vehicle. Even though she could go to a conventional lender, she says she prefers to buy a car through us because she knows the important services we provide will help her continue to improve her financial circumstances.
CLICK HERE to support our clients.”
Inspired by 10 mile walk to work
We can never get enough of heartwarming stories like this one:
An Alabama teen who walked 10 miles to work was brought to tears when his co-workers surprised him with a car.
Who wouldn’t be impressed by a work ethic like Derrick Taylor’s? For more than a year, he’d wake up in the middle of the night and walk 5 miles in order to make his 4 a.m. shift at UPS. The job pays 11.90 an hour, and because the money goes towards his ailing mother, there was no way Taylor could afford a vehicle. Thankfully, his co-workers took notice, raising $1,100 to buy him a car of his own.
“The group here, we’ve got some good news for you. Everybody came together and you don’t have to walk no more. You’ve got your own ride,” co-worker JD Ward told Taylor as he presented the Jeep Cherokee to the 19-year-old in an emotional video. (Seriously, we dare you not to cry — watch the video below!)
The team also gave $300 to go towards liability insurance.
“If I could, I would go around and thank everybody one by one,” Taylor said. “This is really going to change a lot for me, so thank you again.”
DART's holiday schedule reminds us of our mission
This holiday season, we were reminded why we do what we do here at On The Road Lending. We never get tired of hearing from our clients on how having a car has led to happier lives or seeing their faces when we hand them the keys, but this special reminder came in the form of an email from DART.
The email, which we assume went out to all DART users, detailed the Christmas holiday schedule. It explained that they’d be running on an abbreviated schedule (which included one system, TRE, not running at all on Christmas Day as well as the closing of certain offices) for the holiday weekend and that people who use the public transport system should plan accordingly.
And while we appreciate the fact that DART workers had the chance to take a break and enjoy their time at home during the holidays, we can only imagine how hard this must be for those who rely on public transportation to get to and from jobs, especially those whose work retail jobs with extended holiday hours. How can they commute in a safe and efficient way if they can’t even rely on their only mode of transportation? What does planning accordingly actually mean for these people? Going to work much earlier than usual? Taking a pricey taxi or rideshare to get to their destination?
We’re working to make sure people in our community have transportation they can rely on. And the truth is that it won’t happen until they have a vehicle of their own.